Minister of Education Jeffrey Lloyd yesterday confirmed plans to begin the school year on October 5, with the first week dedicated to orientation.
Lloyd told parliamentarians the orientation will be face-to-face and will allow students and teachers to work out any issues with the online learning platform necessitated by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“This is to familiarize all students and educators with how to access all facets of the new educational virtual paradigm,” he said.
He added, “The orientation will be face-to-face, in a staggered fashion with certain students coming on a particular day, with others coming on other days for the ease, convenience and accessibility for all students and others involved.
“The orientation can also be virtual for students who choose that option.
“For those who are attending [in] person, while we ask that you wear your uniforms, we are requesting administrators to be lenient with students in the first weeks of school while they adjust to the new paradigm of their education.”
Lloyd said the director of education, based on the advice of district superintendents, will determine the mode of instruction for particular schools.
“Over the next few days, notices in all media will advise of which schools will be utilizing such methods,” he said.
“No matter the mode, Mr. Speaker, in all respects, the safety and well-being of our students, staff, educators and all others are paramount, foundational and will be in keeping with the dictates of the competent authority.
“However, please check with the school to find out what happens there.
“However, let me reiterate that we are certainly in a fluid environment; nothing is written in stone. Consequently, these decisions are subject to change as guided by the competent authority based on recommendations of the Ministry of Health.
“You will be informed in due time of whatever changes that will be made.”
Lloyd said it is not clear how long schools will operate using the instruction models they reopen with.
“Again, a decision to shift from one model to the next will be determined by the health conditions at the time,” he said.
“To this end, the technology team has put steps in place to ensure seamless transitions between the three models, face-to-face, blended and completely virtual.”
The October 5 reopening date was announced by the Ministry of Education last month.
Private and public schools on New Providence, Abaco and Eleuthera will reopen for virtual learning, while schools on all other islands will be allowed to open for face-to-face instruction.
Lloyd had previously indicated that schools across the country would reopen on September 21, after having closed on March 16, following the first locally confirmed case of COVID-19.
Lloyd said students on the lunch voucher program will receive Aliv vouchers for electronic devices to use for online learning.
He said New Providence students may collect the vouchers from the schools they attended last year.
Lloyd said the distribution will take place in the order of students’ last names.
Those with last names beginning with letters A to G can collect their vouchers tomorrow.
Students with last names starting with letters H through O may collect their vouchers on Monday. And those with last names beginning with letters P through Z can collect vouchers on Tuesday.
Lloyd said students on the lunch voucher program on Abaco, Andros, Eleuthera and Grand Bahama will be able to collect their vouchers for devices as of Wednesday.